San Francisco Model Yacht Club – 2006 Year End Boat Float

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The Monterey Clipper fishing fleet gathers on Spreckels Lake.

by Patrick Matthews

The day was perfect. I emerged from the Caldecott Tunnel high up above Berkeley, with the entire San Francisco Bay spread out before me. This was one of those wonderful October days when the sky was blue all the way to the horizon beyond the Golden Gate Bridge — not a wisp of fog in sight. Continuing across the Bay Bridge and into the City, it was only going to get better, because I was going to Golden Gate Park to see the San Francisco Model Yacht Club’s “Year End Boat Float” (aka “Wood Boats on Parade”).

Born in 1898, the SFMYC is well known for its fleet of old time free-sail yachts, but is also home to wide variety of R/C yachts and power boats. The club operates on Spreckels Lake in the park, which was purpose-built for model yachting.

The SFMYC clubhouse was a WPA project finished in the 1930s.

The SFMYC clubhouse was a WPA project finished in the 1930s.

A forest of sails inside the clubhouse.

A forest of sails inside the clubhouse.

Several vintage R/C power models are also on display inside.

Several vintage R/C power models are also on display inside.

The Power group was hosting this float, which was designed to be a relaxing and noncompetitive event to wrap up the year’s activities. Parades and demonstrations were the order of the day, and the only judge in sight was running the water polo demonstration with the little Springer Tugs.

Not to say that there weren’t any prize winners here. From gleaming mahogany to well weathered work boats, and with motivation ranging from high-powered gasoline engines to live steam, some of the finest workmanship on the West Coast was on display beneath the park’s eucalyptus trees.

John Garis brought just one of the many splendid cabin cruisers on display, but his rig always gets the most attention. Beautiful inlaid woodwork catches the eye first, but the launching process adds to the fascination. An R/C truck backs the boat and its trailer down a ramp into the water. The boat is powered by a four cylinder gasoline engine which is electrically started via radio control. The variable-pitch prop is engaged in reverse, and the model backs away from the ramp. After running about the lake for a bit, John brings the boat back to the trailer, reversing the whole process. The show is always good for a round of applause.

John Garis’s cabin cruiser has a 4-cylinder gas engine that can be started by R/C. An R/C truck backs the trailer down a ramp.

John Garis’s cabin cruiser has a 4-cylinder gas engine that can be started by R/C. An R/C truck backs the trailer down a ramp.

SFMYC members prepare their craft for the day’s outing.

SFMYC members prepare their craft for the day’s outing.

“Artful Dodger” is a 1938 triple cockpit Chris-Craft in 1:8 scale, by Kip Catanese. The display board mimics the deck planking pattern.

“Artful Dodger” is a 1938 triple cockpit Chris-Craft in 1:8 scale, by Kip Catanese. The display board mimics the deck planking pattern.

Beautiful woodwork on Don Ciucci’s 60” 1940s Hacker-Craft cabin cruiser catches the eye.

Beautiful woodwork on Don Ciucci’s 60” 1940s Hacker-Craft cabin cruiser catches the eye.

“Miss Catalina VII” was built by Don Ciucci’s  father

“Miss Catalina VII” was built by Don Ciucci’s father

Detail, "Miss Catalina VII"

Detail, "Miss Catalina VII"

Detail, John Garis's cabin cruiser

Detail, John Garis's cabin cruiser

Here's a big beauty

Here's a big beauty

A gentleman's racer by Ken Valk

A gentleman's racer by Ken Valk

Keith Marsh and Tom LaMantea brought their two similar but unique towboats, “Snake River” and “Chattahoochee”, and a pair of well-weathered barges to work around the lake. The towboats are scratch built and operate under the old “Red Stack Tug” colors of Crowley Marine. Both have all the grime and clutter expected on a busy workboat, and Tom goes the extra distance with a display cradle that depicts a bustling boat yard.

Tom LaMantea’s “Chattahoochee” is displayed in a very active boat yard.

Tom LaMantea’s “Chattahoochee” is displayed in a very active boat yard.

Chattahoochee, boatyard detail

Chattahoochee, boatyard detail

Keith Marsh’s “Snake River” gets an assist with the gravel barge.

Keith Marsh’s “Snake River” gets an assist with the gravel barge.

“Kendra Lynn” by Ken Reilly is a reworked Dumas “Jersey City” in the colors of New Orlean’s Crescent Towing Co.

“Kendra Lynn” by Ken Reilly is a reworked Dumas “Jersey City” in the colors of New Orlean’s Crescent Towing Co.

“Pinadoro” is a Model Slipway “Tsekoa II” kit modified by Rolf Reimann.

“Pinadoro” is a Model Slipway “Tsekoa II” kit modified by Rolf Reimann.

They grow’em big in San Francisco. The 60 inch long “Pacific Star”, another build by Don Ciucci .

They grow’em big in San Francisco. The 60 inch long “Pacific Star”, another build by Don Ciucci .

More of Tom LaMantea’s handiwork is seen in his Higgins PT boat “Hubba Hubba”, which features a handmade crew.

More of Tom LaMantea’s handiwork is seen in his Higgins PT boat “Hubba Hubba”, which features a handmade crew.

A nicely finished Hartman harbor tug

A nicely finished Hartman harbor tug

The Hartman prepares to rearrange the embankment.

The Hartman prepares to rearrange the embankment.

The biggest draw of the day was provided by the fleet of Monterey Clippers. These quaint fishing boats can still be found at places such as Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. Double-ended and with Mediterranean bloodlines, these boats were built by eye — all similar, and each one different. Rigged variously for crabbing and salmon trolling, and with a small single cylinder (or”one lunger”) engine somewhere under the compact pilot house, these boats allowed immigrant Italian fishermen to work the bay waters in all weather.   The model Clippers are built as large as 1:6 scale, nearly five feet in length.

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Ken Valk’s “Louie G.” with Blaine Russell’s “Maggie A.”, behind. Both are built on old 40” Pandora Models hulls.

Ken Valk’s “Louie G.” with Blaine Russell’s “Maggie A.”, behind. Both are built on old 40” Pandora Models hulls.

Leon Embry’s “Embrini” is rigged for San Francisco’s Dungeness crab.

Leon Embry’s “Embrini” is rigged for San Francisco’s Dungeness crab.

“St. Erina” by Leon Embry is a slightly larger Monterey, rare and known as a Northern Salmon Trawler. The prototype of this boat still operates today from Sausalito.

“St. Erina” by Leon Embry is a slightly larger Monterey, rare and known as a Northern Salmon Trawler. The prototype of this boat still operates today from Sausalito.

Ken Valk weathered “Lupo di Mare” with a wire brush.

Ken Valk weathered “Lupo di Mare” with a wire brush.

Maggie A

Maggie A

Santa Susana

Santa Susana

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